Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cassette Review: Cancer Lake / Bullshit Market (Personal Archives)

The way this cassette is presented I feel like Bullshit Market should be Side B but this is was how it was rewound so here we go.   This begins with a loud burst of static.    There are some frequency type sounds and then an audio clip is spliced in because I hear someone talking.    He knows you don't have a scale.   This goes back into this haunted distortion sound.    While the static has the normal distorted wall sound you'd expect there is this element of technology mixed with it somehow.  I can't explain it, but it is quite fun.

There is sort of screaming at this point and it sounds less like an audio clip and more like the artist being pissed off.    This might be an audio clip disguised as vocals, but regardless, the anger within it coupled with the music is spot on.     This turns into that sharp feedback like "In Utero" and there are vocals spliced into it all but they are twisted somehow.    I'm not sure if the words are being spoken because the person is being killed by technology or if they are the technology doing the killing.  

More words have me thinking of an audio clip but the thing with this piece now is that these might all be audio clips, they might all be spoken word vocals or they might be some combination.   The fact that I cannot tell is what makes their placement so remarkable.    While it would be nice to sit down and point out "That's an audio clip" and "That's spoken word vocals" or just be told that they are all either one or the other, I like the mystery behind it.   I like not knowing.   The times when I most think they could be vocals are perhaps when they are not or vice versa and that's how I like for it to remain.

Cancer Lake is an artist I know thanks to Centipede Farmer and as a "This will likely only be funny to me" type of story, I was listening to this split cassette and taking notes during the same time as a cassette from Crown Larks and so it became funny to me (but not haha funny) that both these artists are abbreviated "CL" in my notes but are so different.    This side (which could be "Side A", but when you have a split I don't think it matters and just see it as "CL Side" and "BSM Side") begins with these fast paced drums that have a punk feel to them with an audio clip about trash mixed in.    It's actually Danny Devito from "It's Always Sunny", for those wondering, but it has a more distinct audio clip feel than BSM did.  

Cymbal crashes, guitars and screamy vocals come out.   This is like that hardcore thrash feel of Converge only the songs are shorter.   I remember listening to so much great music like this back in the day and I really do miss it.  (It has actually inspired me to go look up and listen to Ed Gein again)    There is also this band this reminds me of- if you've never heard of them you should- called Puig Destroyer and, no, that "u" is not a typo.    A stronger static feel comes through now and then the vocals begin to sound as if they are possessed by a demon.   If only they'd start speaking in tongues we could raise the holy one.  

The music has the same qualities but slows down a little bit here.   Then it begins to pick back up and once again make me feel nostalgic for Black Market Industries.  (I feel I still have a sampler CD of them somewhere)  "You can crush me but you can't crush my spirit... Ahhh my spirit!!"   Classic Futurama right there.    This goes into an instrumental stretch and sort of slows down before another audio clip and then the pace picks back up.  

What I feel like this split does is it has two similar styles of music together but yet they aren't exactly the same.   Listening to BSM would be like watching a horror movie such as "Pulse", where as Cancer Lake is more like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (Just to use horror movies I think everyone has heard of as an example)   But, yes, I'd not heard Bullshit Market before but am glad that I did and now that I've been reminded of Cancer Lake I will look further into their music on Bandcamp as well-- like a good split should make you do.

$5 // Edition of 50 // https://personalarchives.bandcamp.com/album/c24-split

Cassette Review: "That Too Long Hour Never Dim Enough To Sleep" (Kerchow Records)

I have heard both Restaurnaut and Wica Intina enough before to know what I was getting into with this split cassette.   It should be seen as one of those all-star type of ideas because you should also be already familiar with both of these artists and I'm not even going to say that one of them should make you want to listen to this cassette because both of them should.

Restaurnaut offers up the acoustic guitar and vocals thing on Side A.    It's got these sort of growls in it you have to hear to understand.   It's also got these lyrics you have to read to understand because I'm not going to quote them all for you nor recite my tired speech about the difference between a songwriter and someone who simply writes lyrics (Restaurnaut is a songwriter)    There is this mix of Modest Mouse and Kimya Dawson, which if that's not enough to get you into this cassette then I don't know what is.

Oh wait.   There is one song about conspiracy theories and how he believes in them all.   Everything from believing in Area 51 to believing 9/11 was an inside job.    To file under the category of "Things I Shouldn't Know But Do", there are actually a lot of songs about how 9/11 was an inside job and if you find one rap video on YouTube about it you'll go down quite the rabbithole.   I believe that Area 51 is real.   If there weren't such things as aliens- if life on other planets wasn't possible- I believe they would just come out and tell us.   I believe there would be undeniable proof.

So to think that life only exists on Earth seems naive and close-minded.   But then you also have to think if the government is lying to us about aliens then what else are they lying to us about?   I don't think you can be someone who believes some conspiracy theories-- I think you're either against them or all in and I'm all in.   (I'm actually writing this review two days after 9/11/17 and still don't feel badly saying it was an inside job.   Again, go watch the YouTube videos.   Hip hop doesn't lie)

Wica Intina has this darker quality to the acoustic guitar and vocals combination.    Granted, Restaurnaut ends Side A with a song called "When I'm Gone", but there is just this Johnny Cash feel to Wica Intina.   It's droning string plucks which make it less like that singer/songwriter/folk/whatever type of sound from Side A.    A little bit of Nirvana in an acoustic sense and a tad of Dylan as well round out this sound which even has whistling.

What one should take away from this split cassette is that you have two artists who seemingly adhere to the same properties of music: that being their voice + an acoustic guitar.   And while there are obvious similarities because, you know, they're still both playing the same instrument and singing, there is this strong sense of their sounds being different as well.   So to use the same tools and create such distinct results is a lesson many copycat artists can learn from but also a true testament to how talented both of these artists on this split are.

$5 // Edition of 100 // https://kerchowrecords.bandcamp.com/album/that-too-long-hour-never-dim-enough-to-sleep

Cassette Review: Body Shame "Open Sores" (SDM Records)

The name Body Shame makes me think of high school.   You know how I know you were likely awkward and weird in high school?   Because I feel like everyone thought that way about themselves.   It's like when you have this geeky looking kid and the girl of his dreams together and he says to her "But what do you have to dislike about your body?"   Growing up, I was made fun of for being tall and skinny (Think of Bill from "Freaks and Geeks"), but I don't feel like anyone is really comfortable with their body.   We all have things we wish we could change about it.

I immediately enjoy the song title "bbw ffm pov".    It's something I would likely click on, but it's also some other type of way to feel because sometimes you might just feel like you're suffocating.     These deep sort of bumps are what start this cassette and it sounds like the intro to Samoa Joe's WWE theme music.   Lasers sound like birds and there are sort of vocals in here as well.    Space chaos is the best way to describe this one overall I'd say.   It's static, synth, beeping, lasers, radio frequency changes and mostly instrumental.   It's as much the industrial vibe of Nine Inch Nails as it is R2D2's beeps and whirrs.

Trying to relate this to the artist name Body Shame doesn't really work.   I wanted to convey some profound connection between the two, but this is much more like a sci-fi movie, perhaps in space, and there are hints of video game sounds in it as well.    It could even be something like let's say "Flash Gordon" meets "Godzilla" (in space, obviously) but with this being the soundtrack to an Atari 2600 video game version based on the movie.

Regardless of how you feel about your body, this music is great.   It's somewhere between Boar and something else I can't quite put my finger on exactly.   At the same time, if this does open up discussion about body images and all of that (As I hope the title of the first track might) then I'm all for it as well.

$5 // Edition of 50 // https://sdmpdx.bandcamp.com/album/body-shame-open-sores-sdm-039

Cassette Review: Ak'Chamel, The Giver of Illness "Death Chants" (Already Dead Tapes)

I still remember back when Ak'Chamel was known to me as that artist who experimented with VHS tapes.   This was years ago, but it was the first time I had ever heard of anyone using VHS tapes to make music before.   I suppose it is easy enough to think of the conversion from cassettes in this sense to VHS, but still, not as many people have access to VCR as they would a tape deck.   Isn't it funny how they still market a stereo that would come with a tape deck, record player, CD player, digital dock and radio tuner and yet they don't have any advanced Blu-Ray/DVD/VHS/Laser Disc/cable tuning type of thing for the television?

This cassette begins with a dark sort of chanting.   A random sort of horn synth comes in and then it's clank and drudge through dark acoustics.    I would call this one "haunted melodies" but part of that is because this reminds me of something played on a really old record player, such as from an old black and white cartoon (you either know the type or you don't and I suppose it depends upon your knowledge of animation)   I also used the word "dark" in my notes a lot because this has the presence of a funeral.  It resembles Murder By Death in some way but that's about the only other artist I can relate it with.

A pulsating heart turns into a flurry of utter chaos.   This is somehow heavier than death metal; this is somehow heavier than death.   It's droning now.   Alien lasers take over.   Then a sitar.   Rambling ruckus turns from this "Desperado" feel into a sound of horns which mimic a radio station being tuned.   We return to the sad acoustics from earlier on this side and then through this sort of party feel with toms (drums) it ends on that "Desperado" vibe.

On the flip side we open up with jittery whirrs.  There are briefly some bells mixed in as well.   This brings on a delicately played classical guitar number.    A driving guitar riff with chanting generates an urgent guitar rattle.   The guitars get singing/chanting mixed in next for this sort of hymn feel.    I am reminded of the demos and early outtakes of Nirvana (see: that boxed set they did)  Guitars once again seem to be the focus of this side as they plow through with space lasers.

The particular chanting and the strumming of the bass-filled guitar remind me of this one particular song by The Who.   I can vaguely hear drums and I'm not sure if the only guitar being played is the bass but this is the closest I think I've ever heard Ak'Chamel come to a traditional song.    Organs come on next to give it that church feel and the chanting/ohm singing only makes me believe my earlier idea about hymns was correct.

It has been a little while since I last heard Ak'Chamel but I feel like every time I hear their music it only gets better.   On one hand, I want to say that I'm surprised that Already Dead would release a cassette by Ak'Chamel because lately I've been listening to cassettes on this label that aren't really in this genre (Not to say they haven't explored this type of music before though)   I suppose it just goes to show though that if you are around long enough and make consistently good music your efforts will not go unnoticed.

Sold Out // https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/ad256-akchamel-the-giver-of-illness-death-chants

Cassette Review: NONZOO "WAZOO" (Already Dead Tapes)

Some time ago I considered actually making awards for those who are involved with cassettes.   I never saw it as a "you're better than this artist" idea, but more just the recognition of it all.    People I feel don't get enough recognition because as I've said before I feel like the world of talent is upside down-- some of the least talented so-called musicians are on the radio, etc.    But I think I need to find some award to give to Already Dead Tapes & Records.   In my review of Complainer I thought, "Wow, this is so good.  It's so unique"   And now I come back to that same place with NONZOO.

You have to understand this cassette starts in such a way that I can describe it but not in full.    There are vocals, there are electronics, there's rock n roll and it all comes together in quite possibly the most chaotic of ways.    It's just... It's not something I've ever heard before so I can't quite put my finger on it, and it all happens so quickly, but this is somewhere between Deerhoof and Fear Before the March of Flames when it begins.

The bass line can get funky.    I hear The Lot Six, at least I think I do because as I'm listening to it I also want to go and listen to them afterwards.    It gets into this dark place where it's instrumental at first.   It has these sort of terrifying screams like the score to a haunted house.    Clanky guitars accompany some singing and there is a ringing drone as well.   I don't know how NONZOO manages to move from one song to the next and seemingly change genres but remain intact but we are all the better for it.

There is this certain punk rock attitude which this music takes on.   It somehow can crossover through various genres without missing a beat.   I can't explain how it does it and when all of the madness is happening I can't even begin to fully describe what is happening but it's wonderful.   I'm submitted so many songs that have the feeling of "Oh, I've heard this one a million times before".   I don't understand why artists don't take more chances.   I'll never understand why more artists aren't like NONZOO, as much as I'd like for them to be.

Cassette Review: Tabor Mountain "Hard Magic" (Kerchow Records)

When I first started writing about music the idea of sending it through the Internet was not what it is now.   People generally had to submit music to me via compact disc.   Unfortunately for me, over the years I've lost a lot of the music submitted to me because of moving and the such.   I had this one CD that really did remind me of this cassette but I can't remember the artist and it's not something I could find online now anyway-- it was that sort of small run.

Tabor Mountain has this presence about them like a punk band or a rock band but also this dark, metal vibe with it.   Right away I hear grunge.   It's Butthole Surfers perhaps.   Deeper vocals come out like Marcy Playground.   It's a bit of Mudhoney as well.    The punk undertones combine with something from the late 1980's or early 1990's when rock was changing shape.   If you find a band from, well, the past twenty years and then find a song they cover it might likely be traced back to that sort of era.

That isn't to say they aren't without their fair share of catchy riffs, which make me think of a band like Ten Foot Pole or Jughead's Revenge (Who later had to change their name for legal reasons but whatever, I'm keeping it old school)   Dag Nasty brings out evidence of a hardcore punk vibe.   It's like something from early Epitaph and, well, there is just a huge emphasis on the spectacular guitar work on this cassette and that's the first thing that you should notice.   There is also this sort of Misfits vibe here and I'll say that their guitar work also reminds me of The Offspring.

With starts and stops this can become dark punk rock, even heavier at times when dark keys come in, but overall it just maintains that rocking quality.    It's not easy to describe because when I think about the formula put into this I just imagine it reading on paper as coming out more like The Misfits and it doesn't really sound like them so much as just have the same idea behind it all.    it is definitely unique since I've only ever heard one other band that even comes close to this in near twenty years and I'll be playing this a lot.

$5 // Edition of 50 // https://kerchowrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hard-magic

Cassette Review: Electro​-​Kraken "EP 2016" (SDM Records)

One of the first instrumental bands I ever listened to and really enjoyed was The Cancer Conspiracy.   I also got into instrumental math rock for a little bit, but I feel like instrumental music has always been there- with songs like "Wipe Out" and that one where they stop to say "Tequila!".    What Electro-Kraken does on this cassette is unlike anything instrumental I have ever heard before and it even transcends a lot of what artists with singers accomplish.

For the simple term of this, it can be described as surf punk.   It just has that drum beat, those long guitar stretches and the feeling of someone sliding their pick down the guitar string.   The presence of surf is immediate and lingers throughout the cassette but it isn't the only factor in this music.    No, this somehow takes on several different other aspects while remaining true to its surf core I'd say.

Underneath this all and perhaps underneath all surf music really is the rock n roll quality.    The music is able to paint that image in your mind where you could see these guitar riffs being played by someone such as Chuck Berry only, you know, Electro-Kraken takes them to the next level.    It reminds me of Primus in how complex it is.   There is neither really a lead with the bass or guitar-- they seem to be equally important and playing together which makes for a better overall sound.

Though there are fun aspects to this (I could see it as the soundtrack to a surf or skate video), it also becomes wild and crazy.   I think of math rock on some level, but it's amped up.   You have to consider that normal speed of the type of music I'm putting this in the genre of and then heighten it to levels the likes of which I've not heard before.   In the delivery, it can also be aggressive.   There is that underlying quality to it all where you might not want to mess with the people playing it, you know, it's not that it sounds hardcore in the music sense but it does convey that vibe which portrays it as not meaning to be fucked with.